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Ellen Pao: I Was Fired by Kleiner Perkins

Five months after filing a sexual misconduct claim against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Ellen Pao is no longer with the venture capital firm.
Ellen Pao is suing renowned venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for sexual harrassment.

Ellen Pao, the woman who filed a sexual harrassment and retaliation suit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said on Tuesday that she had been fired by the venture capital firm. 

"I have been terminated from my job at KPCB," Pao wrote on question and answer site Quora."On Monday afternoon, senior management told me to clean out my office, leave, and not come back." Pao then thanked the Quora community, which has shown an outpouring of support for her.

Kleiner Perkins has repsonded by saying that Pao is being terminated for job performance issues, and that she was not forced to immediately leave her post.

"Ms. Pao's Quora post is misleading," a Kleiner Perkins spokeswoman said in a statement. "Because of long standing issues having no relationship or bearing on the litigation, Kleiner approached Ms. Pao to facilitate her transition over a period of time, out of the firm."

In May, Pao, a junior partner at the firm, filed a lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins alleging that she was pressured into having a sexual relationship with another partner and that she suffered retaliaton from her co-workers when she tried to end the relationship.

Shortly after Pao filed her suit, she posted to Quora, saying that she would continue to work at the firm and had no plans to quit.

The suit says Pao's complaints about being propositioned for sex by a firm partner were widely ignored by senior management. Rather than address her complaints, Pao alleges the firm retaliated against her by reducing her profit share and attempting to have her transferred to the firm's China office, according to the legal complaint.

Kleiner Perkins said Pao did not make her supervisors aware of the sexual harrassment until late 2011, when she had already retained legal counsel. The firm's answer to the complaint adds that the firm hired an independent investigator to look into Pao's claims, and found that Pao's "discrimination and retaliation complaints were without merit."

Judge Harold Kahn, of San Francisco County's Superior Court, ruled in July that Kleiner Perkins could not force Pao into binding arbitration regarding the suit.

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Last updated: Oct 3, 2012

JOHN MCDERMOTT | Staff Writer

John McDermott is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Playboy and on AOL.com. He recently moved from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, to work for Inc.com.




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